Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in just about any state in the country can have serious consequences. This is certainly the case in Texas, where the punishment for such an act can be quite severe.
In Texas, the act of driving with a too-high blood alcohol level is known as Driving While Intoxicated, or a DWI. This is as opposed to the more traditionally known DUI, or driving under the influence. At the end of the day, they mean the same thing.
Is a DWI a felony in Texas? There are some situations where it would be considered one. Read on, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about DWIs in Texas.
A First Time DWI Offense In Texas
The severity of penalties for DWI charges in Texas often depends on the number of times the individual has been convicted. First-time charges are often treated with a lot less severe than those who are caught breaking the law for a second time.
A person convicted of a DWI for the first time will often be charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony. That means a number of important things, most namely that there is no chance that the person will have to go to prison.
That doesn’t mean time behind bars is completely out of the question, however. Individuals charged with a first time DWI still might have to spend a few days behind bars in county jail. In many cases, a judge will probate this jail time, and you can avoid having to go as long as you follow the requirements of probation.
There also might be fines associated with your first-time DWI charge. These fines should be about $2,000 or less. The state can not require you to pay more for a first offense. Your exact punishment will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, and the decisions of the judge.
In almost all cases, an individual’s driver’s license will be suspended for a specific amount of time. For first-time offenders, an expected suspension of one to three months is to be expected.
When Is A DWI a Felony?
As we mentioned previously, there are some instances where a DWI charge will be considered a felony. A felony charge can have much more serious consequences associated with it.
When might a DWI be considered a felony?
The most common instance would be if it was a repeated conviction. On your third time getting caught driving under the influence, your DWI charge could be considered a third-degree felony. It’s impossible to overstate how serious this can be.
Your case will be moved up to a more serious court, and you will have more serious and aggressive lawyers on your case. The penalties you can pay in fines might be doubled or even tripled. Perhaps most serious of all, a third-degree felony conviction might be enough to put you in state prison for anywhere from two to ten years.
Texas does not put a limit on the look-back period for DWIs. That means it doesn’t matter how long ago your last offense may have been. If you are caught again, you could be facing the full brunt of the law when it comes to your punishment.
Other Instances To Be Aware Of
A subsequent conviction isn’t the only situation in which you can get in a lot of trouble with the law. Being charged with a DWI when there is a child in the car can get you hit with an immediate felony charge.
The law defines a child in this instance as anyone under fifteen years of age. If they were in the car when you were driving intoxicated, you should anticipate a felony charge and all that comes with it.
The state of Texas takes child endangerment cases very seriously. An individual could end up in state prison for up to two years if convicted in this fashion.
If you cause an accident while intoxicated in the state of Texas, it might also be considered a felony. Law enforcement considers accidents as a result of intoxication to be an assault. If another party suffers serious injuries as a result of the actions of an intoxicated driver? Two to ten years in prison will also be on the plate.
Fighting For A More Favorable Outcome
It can be difficult to beat a DWI charge, but not impossible. In some situations, it may be possible to get a case thrown out entirely. In others, an attorney might be able to deploy a strategy and obtain a more favorable outcome to the case.
While you still may have to face some sort of punishment, you may not have to face the most severe version of these penalties. The attorneys from the state that will be prosecuting you will be well versed and experienced when it comes to DWI charges.
It’s essential that you have an experienced DWI attorney on your side as well if you hope to be able to swing the case in your favor.
Is a DWI a Felony In Texas?
If you’ve recently been caught drinking and driving, this is certainly information you might need to know. The above details should provide everything you need to know about DWI cases in the state. In some cases, felony charges may be present.
Need help with your own case? Contact me anytime for a free consultation.